Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray. (PTI)
today said he is prepared to forego power and withdraw all the party’s ministers from the BJP-led government in Maharashtra if Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is willing to announce a total loan waiver for debt-ridden farmers. Uddhav, however, made it clear that the Sena would continue outside support to the BJP government. “What are you engaging in… mid-term poll surveys? If you have the courage, waive loans of farmers. I will opt out of power by withdrawing all my ministers but will continue to support your government from outside,” Uddhav said in a day- long agriculture convention organised by the Sena in Chopada town here.
Uddhav said the Sena is often questioned on criticising its ally (BJP) and told to withdraw from the government if it has a problem. “I will not waste a second to kick away power when time comes… We are committed to the well-being of farmers and people. If once we get into the battlefield against you, we will not back out till we win. The government has changed but problems continue unabated. This is the same CM who used to demand a loan waiver while he was in the Opposition. Today he has forgotten everything,” he alleged.
“If loan waiver is a temporary solution, so be it. But it has to be done now. Whatever happens in the future, we will see,” he said. Uddhav also criticised the BJP’s ambitious Mumbai-Nagpur Samurddhi Expressway project and said, “the project may be good to bring both capitals nearer, but it is wrong to take away lands of farmers forcibly for the Expressway. Make farmers prosperous first and then carry out your project.”
“We cannot ruin farmers’ lives and build the Samruddhi Expressway. Such development is of no use,” he told a gathering at the convention attended by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief and MP, Raju Shetti, agri-experts, farmers and others including senior Congress leader Vinayakdada Patil.
In a veiled attack at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over note ban and his poll promises, Uddhav said, “‘Mann ki baat’ should stop now and ‘farmers ki baat’ should begin. It was promised ahead of the (2014) LS polls that black money would be brought back and Rs 15 lakh would be deposited in every Indian citizen’s account. Now please deposit Rs 15 lakh in every (debt-ridden) farmer’s account.”
“It is the common man and the farmers’ who were hit most by demonetisation. They are still suffering,” he added. Uddhav also trained his guns on state BJP chief Raosaheb Danve over his recent remarks that farmers continue to complain (and cry) despite the state government doling out sops to bail out Tur growers.
“Now you will have to cry,” he said, adding the farmers have been insulted at a time when the government is not procuring the Tur produce and also not giving a loan waiver to help them tide over the agrarian crisis resulting out of drought conditions, unseasonal rains and lack of good market price for their produce. He alleged that the government imported Tur even after the Centre-appointed Arvind Subramaniam committee predicted a bumper crop this time. Several Shiv Sena ministers, MLAs and MPs including Sanjay Raut were present at the event.